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The Club Dumas Hardcover – February 1, 1997
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Fallen angels, satanic manuals, and a passion for the works of Raphael Sabatini and Alexandre Dumas among others--this is the stuff of Spanish author Arturo Pérez-Reverte's engrossing novel The Club Dumas. Set in a world of antiquarian booksellers where dealers would gladly betray their own mothers to get their hands on a rare volume, The Club Dumas is a thinking person's thriller: in addition to a riveting plot, the book is full of intriguing details that range from the working habits of Alexandre Dumas to how one might go about forging a 17th-century text. Woven through these meditations is enough murder, sex, and the occult to keep both the hero, Lucas Corso, and the reader hopping.
As in his previous novel, The Flanders Panel, set in the world of art restoration, Mr. Pérez-Reverte has written a literary thriller to tease both the intellect and adrenaline gland. Lucas Corso makes a complex, ultimately sympathetic hero, and there's plenty to delight in the intricate twists and turns the story takes before the mystery of The Club Dumas is finally solved.
From Publishers Weekly
The hero of Spanish author Perez-Reverte's freewheeling, ambitious literary mystery is Lucas Corso, an itinerant rare-book hunter who'd gladly sell his grandmother for a first edition. When a wealthy cookbook publisher and bibliophile is found hanged in his study, leaving behind an original handwritten chapter from Alexandre Dumas's The Three Musketeers, antiquarian book dealer Flavio LaPorte asks his friend Corso to authenticate the manuscript. What begins as a straightforward assignment soon complicates into a bewildering tangle of literary gamesmanship as the book detective finds himself swept into a real-life adventure-serial and crime novel rolled into one. As the action shifts from Madrid to Portugal to Paris, the intrepid, bad-tempered, gin-swilling Corso encounters a host of intriguing characters, including devil worshippers, obsessed book collectors and a hypnotically appealing femme fatale. Suspense-filled and ingenious, Perez-Reverte's latest (after The Flanders Panel) is also something of a primer on the rare-book business and a witty meditation on the relationship between book lovers and the texts they adore. Rights: Howard Morhaim.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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On one hand, it has the makings of an intriguing mystery that appeals to avid readers. Its miles and miles of allusions to literary excellence across the centuries is certainly something that one can find appealing. It may be a bit overtaxing to thos who have never heard of the allusions mentioned, but even if one has not read all the works that are alluded to in Perez-Reverte's novel (as I, admittedly, have not), as long as one has some background knowledge about them, he or she can keep up and find it relatively engaging. The mystery of following Dumas' works and wondering whether Torchia's books are actually a map to the devil drives the plot forward, even past the rather lengthy sections of dialogue.
On the other hand, all of the postive feedback I have about the book could also be negative. For instance, the allusions can become tiresome and the real mystery is not Dumas' involvement with the occult but what the Club Dumas has anything to do with Torchia's book. Perhaps the biggest mystery of all is how to extricate these two disparate threads of plot. I found it confusing at times, especially in the final chapter. Instead of following the mystery genre (which one could reasonably expect considering all of the metaliterary references by the narrator) and bringing clarity to the reader in the end, Perez-Reverte brings confusion.
The reader follows Lucas Corso down the serpentine labyrinth of tracking down the three copies of Torchia's book, but the labyrinth is never-ending and the Minotaur is nowhere to be found. I'd be okay with an interminable labyrinth considering one of Torchia's engravings is a maze with no exit, but at least the Minotaur should make an appearance, whether it be in the form of Lucifer's return, the police arresting Corso, or some other beast. As a result, the novel felt rather anticlimactic and left the reader befuddled at what he just spent the last several hours reading. Enjoy the journey, as there seems to be no final destination.
Most recent customer reviews
The ending did surprise me.